Christmas Day Bombings Sweep Nigeria, At Least 25 Dead
12/26/11voa
AP: A victim is tended to by medics in an ambulance following a blast at a Catholic church near Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. -

At least four Christmas Day bombings have been reported in Nigeria, including one during Mass at a Catholic Church near the capital, Abuja, that killed at least 25 people.

The radical Muslim sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the blast at Saint Theresa Catholic Church, which is located in the suburb of Madalla.  Witnesses say there was tension after the blast, with angry youths setting up burning barricades, and police trying to disperse them by firing into the air.

The extremist group also said it was behind a bomb attack later at an evangelical Christian church in the central city of Jos.  It was unclear if the second blast caused any casualties.  A local government official said one police officer was killed, but there were conflicting reports about how he died.

Residents in northeastern Yobe state's town of Gadaka said a blast also struck a church there Christmas services.  Also in Yobe state, police in the state capital Damaturu says a car exploded.  The target of the attack was not immediately clear.

A Vatican spokesman on Sunday condemned the attacks as acts of "blind hatred" aimed to further hatred and confusion.

The West African country has struggled with a wave of violence centered in the country's north, where security forces are battling with Boko Haram.

The group has said it wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

The country of 150 million is about evenly divided between Muslims, who mostly live in the north, and Christians who dominate in the south.

Authorities say violence in and around the cities of Maiduguri and Damaturu has killed at least 68 people over the past few days.

Hundreds of others have died this year in bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram.

In Jos, thousands of people have died in recurring bouts of Muslim-Christian violence over the past decade.  The city sits in Nigeria's Middle Belt, where the mostly Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south.

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